You’ve probably heard of SMART goals. Setting a goal by this methodology helps to prevent some common missteps. However, there’s a widely unknown precursor to goal setting that is critical for bigger changes. That precursor is a vision.

I start every initiative with a vision:

  • A marketing campaign
  • Hiring someone
  • Building a product
  • Fixing systems
  • Etc.

SMART goals establish “what” and “when.” Visions lay the foundation by providing “how” and “why.”

They provide a contextual picture of how the world is different and from that you extract objectives.

I write visions from the stance of the future. If I’m setting annual objectives for 2023, I write the vision from my desk on December 31, 2023:

“It’s the last day of the year. I’m really pleased with how things have unfolded…”

When you integrate this layer, you can achieve your SMART objectives, but still fail in your vision. That’s important because you’re not ticking boxes, you’re trying to effect change.

As a personal example:

In my personal vision for this year, one of the things I wrote was, “…. I also started lead climbing outdoor and am confident and super competent working with ropes.

I did take the lead climbing class and started leading climbs outdoors. But I didn’t get enough repetitions to feel “confident and super competent” with ropes. I need more practice. I’m going to build a mock top-off on the side of my garage and try and get that practice in before year end.

Making clear how and why you want change to occur isn’t complex, but it will put your efforts to grow on solid footing.

One final trick:

If you don’t know what you want, ask yourself what you don’t want. Often you can find what matters through what you’re trying to avoid or prevent.

Featured image is a still frame from a video transmission, taken moments before Neil Armstrong became the first human to step onto the surface of the Moon. John F Kennedy created the vision that realized that moment in his famous speech where he said, “we do it not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard.” Used under public domain.